Drama-deprived? Coming after Musicals

If you belong to that peculiar tribe bugged by musical theater, you will be drama-deprived until the end of September when Bug opens at the Blue Barn and Gogol’s The Inspector General visits the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

            Those two join Next Fall, a play at SNAP! Productions featuring male lovers split by religious faith. Tracy Letts wrote Bug, which won off-Broadway honors for the story of a cocktail waitress hiding from her violent biker boyfriend.

            And the Russian play adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher gives UNO director Doug Paterson freedom to add a local twist to the satirical farce about provincial corruption.

            But devotees of musicals won’t have to wait for a rich array. We’ll soon write more about two offerings, Jersey Boys by a Broadway company at the Orpheum and Chicago starring Kirsten Kluver, Melanie Walters and Seth Fox at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

            The Broadway hit about boy singers is quickly followed by the vintage music of Victor Herbert in Chanticleer’s Babes in Toyland, Sept. 9-25, in Council Bluffs.  Next up are these musicals:

            --Children of Eden at the Bellevue Little Theatre with music by Stephen Schwartz, Sept. 16-Oct. 2. The cast gets to play God (called Father in this show drawn from Genesis), Adam and Noah, and features such obvious songs as “The Expulsion” and “The Flood.”

            --Songs for a New World, starting Sept. 28, at Creighton University, and The Wedding Singer at Iowa Western Community College, opening Oct. 27.

            --Monty Python’s Spamalot hits the Orpheum Nov. 3 for just two nights and Omaha Performing Arts follows with Rain—A Tribute to the Beatles, Nov. 11-12. It promises to “take you back to a time when all you needed was love, and a little help from your friends.” Beatles fans wanting more must wait for the return of Billy McGuigan’s Yesterday and Today to the Playhouse Dec. 2-31.

            The theaters with the most interesting lineups appear to be the Blue Barn and UNO, along with the dozen offerings on two stages at the Playhouse. We won’t label the university’s 12 Ophelias (a play with broken songs) a musical, but the Caridad Svich creation opening Nov. 16 features original music by Michael Croswell. UNO winds up its season next April with Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, a musical drama seldom seen because it deals with the dark side through the likes of John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald.

            The Barn’s selections won a “Wow!” thanks to three choices:  Bug, Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play) which enjoyed a terrific staged reading at the Playhouse and Spring Awakening, the controversial musical that has been avoided by the Performing Arts schedulers.

            The latter two treats won’t open until February and May, when the Playhouse presents Hairspray. By that time, Chanticleer will have presented the new musical based on Richie, the Fonz and other Happy Days characters and earlier the Playhouse will have revived The Fantasticks and introduced Altar Boyz, an irreverent parody about five small-town boys.  Creighton will do a bolder-than-usual Urinetown and Bellevue will complete its season with How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

            And the summer will not only bring the traditional musicals from Ralston and Papillion-LaVista companies, but an original musical, Flyover: a No Coast Song Cycle, a combined effort of Witching Hour and the Candy Project. It will be followed in August by SNAP! Productions tackling Avenue Q.

            Meanwhile, the Broadway Across America series will have opened 2012 with Blue Man Group followed by two familiar musicals, Cats and Fiddler on the Roof plus a much newer hit musical, Rock of Ages, the arena-rock love story featuring hit songs of iconic rockers.

            That dearth of September drama disappears in October and November. On Oct. 7, Witching Hour offer the interactive Now You Are Dead: a Pick Your Play Adventure, and Circle Theater stages J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls while Shelterbelt Theatre continues its annual run of short, scary Shelterskelter plays.

            On Oct. 21, the Playhouse provides the local premier of Flyin’ West, a poignant slice of American history focusing   on courageous African-American women. November brings Shakespeare to Creighton with Merry Wives of Windsor.

           However, Bard mavens must wait until summer for more when the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival pairs Comedy of Errors with Julius Caesar.

          That’s because the Brigit Saint Brigit company, which often includes Shakespeare in their season of classics, will pass on his work while continuing to search for a new home after leaving the Downtown Space recently shared with the Blue Barn. Instead, they’ll open with Moliere’s comedy Tartuffe in November, then feature two Irish playwrights, Conor McPherson and Samuel Beckett before closing with Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

          The season’s classics elsewhere include Streetcar Named Desire at the Playhouse and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at UNO next spring.

posted at 04:10 pm
on Saturday, August 27th, 2011

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